New England by-election candidates step up

LOCKED IN: Rob Taber(independent), Barnaby Joyce (Nationals), Ian Britza (Australia Country Party) and David Ewings (Labor) have all confirmed they'll be running in the byelection.
LOCKED IN: Rob Taber(independent), Barnaby Joyce (Nationals), Ian Britza (Australia Country Party) and David Ewings (Labor) have all confirmed they'll be running in the byelection.

WITH one week down and just four to go, the New England by-election campaign is well underway. 

The former MP, Barnaby Joyce, didn’t waste any time hitting the campaign trail, visiting many of New England’s regional hubs and promised more funding for the electorate.

“I won’t presume anybody’s vote, I’ll work for it,” Mr Joyce said.

“I’ve got a couple of things up my sleeve. We’ll announce them during the campaign.”

Read more: Who’s in, out and on the fence for the New England by-election

Mr Joyce’s rival at the 2016 election, Tony Windsor, ruled himself out of the byelection race – however, the former independent MP said a tilt at the Senate could be on the cards.

In Mr Windsor’s absences, Armidale-based independent Rob Taber has stepped up to take on Mr Joyce for the third time.

“It’s been suggested the byelection is just a formality to get Barnaby back in again, and that's wrong,” Mr Taber said.

“We need to make it a contest. We owe it to the people of New England to have more than one major candidate.”

Labor’s David Ewings will also step into the ring again, after contesting the seat last year. 

The Scone-based resident, who has served in the Royal Australian Air Force, acknowledged he mammoth task he faced, but said the disaffected people of the region deserved a voice.

“The Nationals and other conservative forces have been incumbent in this electorate for a century or so, and that’s a problem, because when that’s the case, complacency sets in,” Mr Ewings said.

“The electorate is being taken for granted.”

Meanwhile, the Greens have confirmed it will enter a candidate in the race, after the party’s New England branch met on Wednesday night.

Internal party voting will take place over the weekend and a candidate will be announced early next week.

Armidale-based independent Rob Taber will run against Mr Joyce for the third time, while former Liberal Western Australian state MP Ian Britza will stand for the Australian Country Party.

Read more: Ian Britza has won the unwinnable seat before

The Sustainable Australia Party, which has the support of high-profile member Dick Smith, is holding a meeting in Tamworth on Sunday. President William Bourke said his party was seriously considering running a candidate.

Mr Bourke described the Sustainable Australia Party as an “independent, centrist party”, with “common sense, evidence-based policies”.

One Nation and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party have ruled out standing a candidate.